Friday, 7 July 2017


Now there's something I can truly embrace.
No, it's not a Japanese soup or a new breed of fluffy white dog.
It's a way of life.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese idea that says imperfection is beautiful. 
In nature. 
In household objects.
In people.
In life.
We can find loveliness and contentment in what we have, here and now, rather than aspiring for a life filled with new, sleek, perfect things.
Sounds good, doesn't it? 

I read about wabi-sabi in the weekend papers and have read a few articles online since.
I may have over-simplified it in my mind - and in my description above.
But I don't really care. 
I just love the idea of not only accepting imperfection, but recognising it as truly beautiful.

The idea, of course, is not exclusive to the Japanese.
I believe many of us practise a form of wabi-sabi every day:

  • The gardener who delights in the fallen autumn leaves littering the grass and the self-seeded jonhnny jump ups invading the gravel path.
  • The woman who won't let her husband paint the chook shed beause the peeling paint looks so pretty.
  • The man who sees beauty in his ageing wife's wrinkles and grey hairs.
  • The op-shopper who gets excited by worn wicker baskets, chipped jugs and warped wooden tennis rackets.

I got the wabi-sabi bug. I started thinking about the things in my own life that are imperfect and truly lovely. Things both big and small, inanimate and living...

Old books 
I have old prayer books and hymn books from Sweden, Norway and Australia. They belonged to our great grandparents and feel like treasure. The ones I love most have leather covers worn as smooth a silk. 
I have faded Astrid Lindgren picture books with Danish text that were read to my husband as bedtime stories when he was a little boy. 
And I have battered old editions of Seven Little Australians and We of the Never Never that fill me with awe every time I touch them. (I know. It's weird, but true!)

Our leather lounge
Bought when the children were babies, it's had everything spilt on it (and tiddled and spewed on it!). The cushions are squished out of shape. The nubuck leather is worn shiny on the seats and armrests. And there's a cluster of holes in a flap of leather at one end where our pet rat, Scampers, made a meal of it. Really made a meal of it. She didn't even ask for the salt or the tomato sauce. She just hoofed in. 
I love this lounge. It still looks fabulous in a squishy, friendly sort of way and it records some of our family history in its scars.

Freckles is home-made and has been a part of my life for forty-six years. My mum knitted her. She's not sophisticated by today's dolly standards. She doesn't cry or blink or wee or speak. She doesn't have a boyfriend called Ken or a shoe collection to rival that of Imelda Marcos. Rather, she oozes old-fashioned charm with her embroidered freckles, wiry wool plaits and faded silk ribbons.

Freckles snuggling up to Honey Bear.
Old toys are the best toys.  
Old boots
The ones I wear in the garden. They're tough and rough and comfy and have a lovely patina created through years of contact with sand, soil and horse manure.

Old Relatives
They have grey hair and wrinkles.  They fear the cold more than they fear tsunamis, snakes and nuclear missiles. They slip into their jarmies and dressing gowns at 5 pm no matter what's happening in the evening. They have gammy hips and dodgy hearing and complicated boxes for their medication. They wear each other's glasses and wonder why the newspaper's blurry. And they're fabulous. 
Old rellies have lots of love and lots of time. Time to chat. Time to ask about your joys and successes. Time to listen to your deepest darkest problems and tell you everything will be okay and make you truly believe it. Time to go for long drives in the country. Time to have that second glass of champagne.  Time to give you goodnight hugs and kisses. 
Morning lie-in with two of my gorgeous aunties
and a book of cryptic crosswords.
Old rellies also have time to help with crossword clues
you just can't get, no matter how hard you try.
And so I say: Go forth my friends and wabi-sabi yourselves stupid. 
It's far more relaxing, enjoyable and attainable than aiming for perfection.

What are the wabi-sabi wonders in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Love it! There are Celtic knotwork designs and Illuminated manuscripts that have little errors in them because only God can be perfect - well that was the idea. So, I think Wabi-Sabi follows the same principle. Freckles is the perfect doll though. I'm living for those freckles!! And, that photo of you and your aunts doing a word puzzle in bed is so precious!!